Inns across New England are upping their culinary game with new chefs, renovated dining rooms and a fresh set of cooking classes. We took a look at a half-dozen—one in each New England state—that really stand out.
The Ocean House 1 Bluff Ave., Westerly, Rhode Island (855-678-0364) oceanhouseri.com
There’s plenty to learn about the grounds of the Ocean House. There’s direct access to a private beach with posh cabanas. There’s a croquet lawn, shuffleboard court and putting green. There’s a 12,000-square-foot spa with seasonal treatments and ingredients. There’s 49 rooms and 18 suites perched at the coastline. And, yes, there’s even a view off the terrace of Taylor Swift’s $17 million seaside mansion, where she stages her July Fourth blowouts.
But there’s plenty of learning to be had inside the Ocean House, specifically at the two-year-old Center for Wine and Culinary Arts, which has a couple of new faces leading it since this winter. Erin Swain, director of wine education, holds a nightly 30-minute class for guests, while Ryan Beaudoin, food forager and director of culinary education, leads two daily 30-minute cooking classes. Taking advantage of Ocean House’s 8,000-bottle cellar that has 1,700 different wines, Swain selects the 5 pm event from a list of nearly 50 themes such as Wine 101, A Look at Etymology and Aromas vs. Bouquets—a favorite class that includes an aroma kit to isolate different smells. In that course, Swain also taps local ingredients from Beaudoin such as toasted marshmallow and lemon zest to give the guests a full range of smells. “We make them really interactive,” Swain says, noting that she’s even based a class around the hit documentary Somm before then screening the film for the guests. Beaudoin offers a similar customization on the culinary end, creating courses on oyster tastings and organizing trips to the inn’s nearby farm, which includes goats, chickens, beehives and lots of veggies. The farm and onsite garden are also tapped for Ocean House’s Coast, a fine-dining restaurant that debuted last year and only uses ingredients within 100 miles of the property.
“We try to keep it as seasonal as possible, utilizing only what’s available to us,” Beaudoin says. “Not just delivering the trends, but also setting new trends and introducing our guests to new trends and cuisine.”
But always leave room for dessert: There’s a shop called Below Deck on the path to the beach that serves made-to-order mini doughnuts, 10 flavors of gelato and milkshakes such as Ocean House’s Kitchen Sink with chocolate gelato, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, Kit Kat, Reese’s Pieces, M&Ms and whipped cream. Sounds like a song from Ocean House’s famous pop-star neighbor: “Wildest Dreams.”
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